Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Truth In Media with Ben Swann, Episode 35: Congress Sells Out U.S. Troops, Refusing Again To End Afghanistan War

While the New York Times and other media outlets are deeply concerned about evidence lacking and unverified reports of Russian bounties on U.S. troops, they all but ignore that the U.S. Congress has once again sold out U.S. troops in a new vote that refuses to bring them home from Afghanistan. This, despite the publication of the Afghanistan War papers which prove that the 18-year war has always been unwinnable and yet the public has been repeatedly lied to about the war. And be sure to check out our sponsor for this episode, Create Tailwind, at https://createtailwind.com


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Reality Check: Millions Wasted ‘Rebuilding’ Afghanistan

Seventeen years of wasted taxpayer money and government mismanagement: millions of U.S. dollars spent on projects to rebuild Afghanistan that have not helped the Afghan people.

In some cases, these projects actually put Afghans in danger.

This is a Reality Check you won’t get anywhere else.

A new report shows that the U.S. has spent some $60 million on building totally useless power lines in Afghanistan. The effort, overseen by the army corps of engineers, was intended to help rebuild the country.

As we reported at TruthInMedia.com, the $60 million spent is just part of a $116 million project that was plagued from the start.

Back in 2013, the U.S. army corps of engineers awarded an Afghan company $116 million to design and build phases two and three of the north east power system, or NEPS, in Afghanistan. According to the report, published by SIGAR, or the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, the $60 million spent on a power transmission project is, quote, “not operational.”

Not operational, because the contract was poorly written. The afghan government was supposed to buy land in the path of the project, allowing the contractor to build phase. They didn’t, and yet the U.S. army corps of engineers gave the contractor clearances to move ahead with construction.

The result? Power lines built through privately held land, some over residential homes, causing real estate disputes. And there’s more.

The contractor’s approved plans did not include connecting the power transmission project to the power source. The army corps of engineers approved a submittal for a temporary connection, but those plans didn’t match the configuration of the power source. So there’s no way to test, let alone go live, with the project.

If the contractors can’t get the plans right, what about the construction of the project?

Well, according to the report, the project’s power towers foundations are already crumbling. Plus, they were built in loose soil, on embankments that are likely to erode. Near where people live.

So that’s $60 million of U.S. taxpayer dollars wasted on a non-operational project. But this isn’t the first time SIGAR has released troubling reports of government waste.

According to TruthInMedia.com, our government spent $160 million on a failed electronic payment system for the afghan government to collect taxes. SIGAR also identified $93 million spent on “forest” camouflage gear for Afghan troops, when there are very few forests in the country.

The irony here: the USAID published a video in 2011 promoting the NEPS project as a way to create efficiency and reduce cost.

What you need to know is that in the 17 years of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, it’s estimated that our government’s reconstruction effort has cost taxpayers $1 trillion. And the occupation continues.

President Trump authorized a troop surge in Afghanistan, bringing the total number of U.S. military there to 14,000. And that’s just military.

So if our government is willing to waste your tax dollars, endanger people halfway across the globe and put our service men and women at risk, to “create efficiency and reduce cost,” what exactly are they doing for us?

That’s Reality Check. Let’s talk about that, right now, on Facebook and Twitter.

Watchdog: US Govt. Wasted $60 Million on Power Lines in NE Afghanistan

According to a recently released report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), the U.S. military spent over $60 million building power lines in northeastern Afghanistan that are not only totally useless but also present a threat to residents.

The project, overseen by the Army Corps of Engineers, was the third phase of a project that cost a total of $116 million. The contract for the project was originally awarded to an Afghan company and was intended to result in a new power grid system in the country’s northeastern section.

However, the project was plagued with problems from the start. Initially, the Afghan government had agreed to help clear a path for the power lines by purchasing privately held land, a key step in the project’s initial stage. Even though the Afghan government never followed through, the contractors built the power lines anyway.

The poor wording of the contract also did not explicitly contain provisions for the company to connect the power lines to the nearest power substation and thus they are nonfunctional. Yet, not only are the power lines useless, but they also could present a danger to residents still living on the land where the lines were built, as the safety of the lines cannot be tested. SIGAR inspectors noted that many of the pylons of the power lines were built on unstable terrain and made with poor quality concrete that had already begun to crumble in several locations.

While the project serves as a striking example of wasted  taxpayer money and government mismanagement, it is by no means an isolated incident in terms of U.S. efforts to “rebuild” Afghanistan as part of the now 17-year-long U.S. occupation of the country.

SIGAR has identified numerous projects that were equally wasteful over the years, including a failed electronic payment system for tax collection in the country which cost American taxpayers $160 million. Another instance was the spending of $93 million on “forest” camouflage gear for Afghan troops despite the fact that there are few forests in Afghanistan, which cover around 2% of the country.

In addition, SIGAR has released several other reports so far this year that detail several other troubling incidents, including employees of the Army Corps of Engineers soliciting bribes, employees of U.S. government contractors accepting kickbacks, poorly built infrastructure and little to no maintenance of schools and hospitals built with U.S. taxpayer funds. The still ongoing U.S. occupation and “reconstruction” of Afghanistan is believed to have cost the U.S. over $1 trillion since 2001.

Sen. Rand Paul Advocates Trump’s Proposed Military Parade, With One Condition

Washington, D.C.— Earlier this week, President Donald Trump called for a military parade in Washington, D.C., reportedly inspired by the French Bastille Day parade he watched in Paris this past summer. While this news has driven some pundits into a frenzy regarding Trump’s penchant for a perceived glorification of militarism, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has come out in support of the idea— but with certain conditions.

Paul brought an insightful perspective forth in an op-ed for Fox News, where he declared his conditional support for a military parade – but with one major provision: the U.S. “declare victory in Afghanistan, bring home our 14,000 troops and hold a victory parade.”

Paul wrote:

A military parade in the nation’s capital? The last military parade in Washington was in 1991, after our victory in the first Iraq War.

Though the martial image of high-stepping soldiers is not one I tend to associate with our nation’s Founders’ distrust of a standing Army, I’m not against a victory celebration. So I propose we declare victory in Afghanistan, bring home our 14,000 troops and hold a victory parade.

We defeated the enemy in Afghanistan. We killed or captured the terrorists who planned, plotted, or aided in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. We killed the ringleader, Usama bin Laden. We disrupted the terrorists’ camps where they plotted and trained. We dislodged the Taliban government that aided and abetted bin Laden.

We just don’t know how to appreciate a good thing. A big part of our foreign policy failures is not knowing when and how to declare victory. So, why not a parade?  Bring the troops home and declare the victory that should have been declared years ago.

The only reason victory is elusive in Afghanistan is that presidents continue to have an impossible definition of victory. If victory is creating a nation where no real nation has ever existed, then no victory will ever occur.

If victory requires the disparate tribes and regional factions of Afghanistan to have more allegiance to a regime in Kabul than to their local tribal leaders, then victory will never come.

We spend about $50 billion a year in Afghanistan. When quizzed in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee recently, undersecretaries of Defense and State could not answer the most rudimentary of questions concerning the war.

How many Taliban fighters do we face? Blank faces for an answer. What percentage of the Taliban are unrepentant terrorists unwilling to negotiate? Blank faces again. 

The Taliban now control a significant amount of Afghanistan’s real estate. Are the Taliban open to negotiating, considering that they appear to be winning?  Blank faces again, but with perhaps a touch of remorse, knowing that there really is no possible military solution in Afghanistan.

The neocons are unaccustomed to nuance in victory. They seem to have learned some lesson about unconditional and total surrender when America dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end World War II with the surrender of Japan, and they seem unwilling or unable to accept any other form of victory.

So, by all means, a parade – yes!  As long as it is a victory parade heralding an end to America’s longest war.

[RELATED: WATCH: Senator Rand Paul Calls Out Government Surveillance Power on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert]

Although his moderate form of non-interventionism is not quite on par with his father Ron Paul’s complete renunciation of the U.S. as an imperialist power, Rand Paul is certainly unique in his foreign policy positions, when compared with the standard neo-conservative thinking regarding foreign interventions and “nation building” that has come to dominate both the Republican and Democratic foreign policy establishment.

NATO: Afghan Troops Should Defend Less, Attack More

by Jason Ditz

As Afghan troops continue to lose ground to advancing Taliban forces, NATO advisers say they want the Afghan military to spend even less time defending territory they already hold, and spend more time on the offensive against the Taliban.

NATO says that the Afghan military is dedicating too many troops to “poorly defended checkpoints,” and insisting that their effort to defend the entire country effectively means they aren’t able to defend anything particularly well.

Afghan forces today withdrew from the Nawzad District of Helmand Province, just days after ceding the neighboring Musa Qala District to the Taliban as well. The Taliban has repeatedly pushed into those districts, forcing the Afghan military to send reinforcements to try to recover them, but seems to have withdrawn for the near term now, saying defends the other districts are the priority.

Despite NATO’s goal of turning the war back into an offensive one, the big problem with the Afghan military seems to be one of numbers, as some 40% of the military exists only on paper, and in many cases this has meant the checkpoints have half the troops they were supposed to defending them.

Afghan officials warn they can’t really abandon their defense, imperfect as it is, because they’re losing enough ground to the Taliban as it is. Even if NATO can convince them, it’s not clear how these security forces, used to hanging out in ramshackle forts with no vehicles, are suddenly going to be able to go “offensive” anywhere not within walking distance.

Pentagon: Number of ISIS Fighters in Iraq, Syria Declining

By Jason Ditz

Desperate to claim some “progress” in the ongoing ISIS war, US defense officials are claiming that their assessment on the size of the ISIS force between Iraq and Syria has declined, and that the best estimates are now between 19,000 and 25,000 fighters.

In 2014, the intelligence estimate was that they believed there were around 20,000 ISIS fighters, though they later conceded that it could’ve been “as high as 31,000,” though there was never really a good effort to square the rather broad estimates.

In that regard, the claim of declining fighters might simply be untrue, with the 2016 estimate just the lower half of the over-broad 2014 estimate. US officials say they aren’t sure the reason of this, but say it could be a combination of the massive number of people they’re killing in airstrikes and efforts to make it harder to get into Syria.

The estimate also does not account for the soaring number of ISIS fighters outside of Iraq and Syria, with large numbers now in Libya, and significant affiliates also setting up shop in Yemen and Afghanistan. All told, ISIS is definitely getting bigger.

Pentagon Desperate to Avoid Calling Afghan Fight ‘Combat’

by Jason Ditz

On Tuesday, US special forces accompanying Afghan troops engaged in a protracted firefight with Taliban forces in the Helmand Province. One of the soldiers was killed and two others wounded, and a helicopter was virtually destroyed.

Don’t call it combat though. Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook, pressed on the matter, appeared increasingly desperate to avoid the “c-word” when talking about Afghanistan, labeling the mission a “train, advise and assist” operation, and shrugged off the fact it was a gunbattle by saying Afghanistan “is a dangerous place.”

The troops were deployed in response to Taliban gains in Helmand, with an explicit eye toward fighting them off. US warplanes have been increasing their airstrikes against Helmand all the while, so why the pretense of a “non-combat” situation?

Despite being 14+ years into the Afghanistan occupation, Pentagon officials are increasingly loathe to present anything the US is doing as combat, even when it involves shooting people and blowing stuff up. The narrative in Afghanistan in particular is one of the US taking a “support” role, and the admission that US troops have to get into combat to keep the Taliban from seizing important parts of the country undercuts the pretense of progress.

Yet this isn’t just an Afghanistan matter. The Pentagon has similarly struggled with “combat” operations in Iraq, labeling gunbattles against ISIS there as “training” operations too.

Pentagon: ISIS ‘Operationally Active’ in Afghanistan

by Jason Ditz

Delivering its bi-annual assessment of Afghanistan to Congress, the Pentagon today warned that the ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan has progressed beyond its “initial exploratory phase to a point where they are openly fighting the Taliban for the establishment of a safe haven, and are becoming more operationally active.”

Previously, officials had downplayed talk of ISIS in Afghanistan being more than a passing branding effort by some disaffected figures in the Taliban, but growing in-fighting in the Taliban, and the ISIS affiliate asserting itself with some territory of its own, appears to be shifting this perspective.

Gen. John Campbell, the US commander in Afghanistan, confirmed that the ISIS faction is growing, and is trying to establish itself out of the city of Jalalabad, saying that there are growing numbers of foreign fighters from Iraq and Syria showing up on the ground there.

With the Taliban’s leadership still in disarray, a situation that has grown even worse, and with two factions vying for leadership in the Taliban, ISIS is offering a unified alternative for recruits, giving them a potential new pool of fighters.

New Report: ‘Human, Technical Error’ Led to Afghanistan Hospital Bombing

On Wednesday, U.S. military officials announced that several American military soldiers and airmen responsible for killing and injuring civilians inside a hospital in Afghanistan violated the rules of engagement and will face disciplinary action.

[RELATED: Doctors Without Borders Leaving Afghan City After U.S.-Led Coalition Bombs Hospital]

In early October, a hospital in northern Afghanistan operated by the organization Doctors Without Borders, also known as Médecins Sans Frontières or MSF, suffered an attack from U.S.-led coalition forces. Thirty-one people were killed in the bombing, including 12 hospital staffers. Three of the deaths were children in the intensive care unit.

The bombing, which took place at a hospital in the city of Kunduz, was originally reported as a request from Afghan military officers who were under fire from Taliban forces. The investigations prove that story to be false. Shortly after the bombing, it was reported that Doctors Without Borders would be leaving the city of Kunduz as a result of the bombing.

Gen. John Campbell, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and Brig. Gen. Wilson Shoffner told reporters the bombing was the result of several human and technical failures. The officials declined to say how many soldiers were suspended.

[RELATED: Doctors Without Borders Hospital Raided By Afghan Forces Months Before US Airstrike]

“We made a terrible mistake that resulted in unnecessary deaths,” Brig. Shoffner said. The officials stated that the crew of an AC-130 gunship was sent to attack a Taliban command center in a different building, but problems with targeting sensors caused the crew to fire on the hospital despite a lack of hostile activity.

Campbell and Shoffner did not address previous claims by military officials that the Taliban had taken over the hospital, but the Associated Press reports that a summary of one of the investigations states there is no evidence to support the claim.

The reports detail a chaotic 25-minute period where planes fired 211 shells at the hospital before commanders realized a mistake had been made. The report also says 31 civilians were killed and 28 others were injured. These numbers are higher than previously reported and the investigators claim that additional civilians were likely killed or injured in the attacks.

One of the investigations is officially known as a combined civilian casualty assessment and was tasked with determining the facts of the bombing, but not assigning blame. U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Richard Kim led the investigation with a team representatives of NATO and the Afghan government. A second investigation conducted by the U.S. military looked into the issue of accountability.

Gen. Kim’s investigation found that U.S. Special Forces were planning a raid of a National Directorate of Security compound in Kunduz on the night of the bombing. “The (U.S. Special Forces commander) did not label the MSF compound (Doctors Without Borders’ French acronym) as containing a medical facility, and that the MSF medical facility was not marked so as to distinguish it as a protected medical establishment,” the report said.

As a result of this mistake, people running from the hospital were shot by gunfire, including one patient trying to escape in a wheelchair who was killed by shrapnel. The report says it is unclear if the commander on the ground who gave the authorization had the coordinates for the hospital when he ordered the attack.

A copy of the casualty assessment report was obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday but has not been released publicly.

Feds Reportedly Spent $43 Million Building One Gas Station

WASHINGTON, November 2, 2015– According to a top government watchdog, the United States Department of Defense (DOD) spent $43 million to build a single gas station in Afghanistan that should have cost about $500,000. The top oversight team analyzing U.S. spending in Afghanistan reportedly discovered the amount as part of a larger investigation into allegations of criminal activity within the DOD’s premiere program to kick-start the Afghan economy.

“I have never in my lifetime seen the Department of Defense or any government agency clam up and claim they don’t know anything about a program,” said special inspector general John Sopko, a former federal prosecutor appointed by President Obama in 2012 to keep watch over spending in Afghanistan.

Sopko wants to know who approved the funding and why, but no one appears to want to speak up within the federal government.

“Who’s in charge? Why won’t they talk?” asked Sopko. “We have received more allegations about this program than we have received about any other program in Afghanistan.”

At the center of the controversy is the Task Force for Stability and Business Operations (TFBSO). Although the task force ended in March 2015, the damage has already been done. According to Sopko, the DOD’s failure to answer questions about the $800 million program, as well as its claim the task force’s employees no longer work for the DOD, is of major concern.

In an Oct. 22 letter to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, Sopko asked why no one at the DOD could speak about the $800 million TFBSO program, which had reported directly to Carter.

“Frankly, I find it both shocking and incredible that DOD asserts that it no longer has any knowledge about TFBSO, an $800 million program that reported directly to the Office of the Secretary of Defense and only shut down a little over six months ago,” Sopko wrote. “Nevertheless, I intend to continue our inquiry.”

While the DOD maintains no one knows anything, Joseph Catalino, the former head of the TFBSO, is still employed by the Defense Department in a senior role.

“There’s few things in this job that literally make my jaw drop,” Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said in a statement to Fox News, “but of all the examples of wasteful projects in Iraq and Afghanistan that the Pentagon began prior to our wartime contracting reforms, this genuinely shocked me.”

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NATO Launches Massive Exercise to Prep for War With ‘Not Russia’

by Jason Ditz

NATO today launched its biggest single military exercise in more than 13 years, involving some 36,000 troops in the Mediterranean Sea, simulating a war spanning from Sicily to Spain and Portugal against a major invading European superpower, who officials are insisting is definitely totally not Russia.

The exercise is planned to last through November 6 and will focus on support a “Spearhead Force” that NATO intends to install along the Russian border, nominally to fend off a Russian invasion of Eastern Europe. The predictions of a Russian invasion have been growing out of NATO for a couple of years, and have justified significant increases in spending and military deployments into otherwise calm nations in the east.

The exercise is also going to involve “hybrid warfare” and challenging officers with Internet “propaganda” involving manipulated pictures and false intelligence, claiming to center on “lessons learned” during the 14-year-plus occupation of Afghanistan.

In addition to the NATO nations, 7 non-member nations will be participating in the exercise. Noteworthy among these is Ukraine, which predicts a full-scale global war with Russia seemingly on a weekly basis, and has ambitions to join the alliance.

Donald Trump Denies Calling Afghanistan Invasion a Mistake

During an interview on Tuesday, GOP presidential candidate and billionaire mogul Donald Trump called the invasion of Iraq a mistake but denied describing the invasion of Afghanistan as such, marking a difference from comments he made earlier this month.

Trump received publicity when he criticized rival Jeb Bush’s comments about former President George W. Bush keeping the American people safe even though 9/11 occurred under his watch.

Following those comments, Trump told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota that he believes he would have had a better chance at keeping the U.S. protected if he were in office.

“This all started because Jeb made the statement that ‘under my brother we were safe,'” Trump said. “Well, he would have qualified by saying ‘after the attack,’ but he didn’t do that.”

Trump continued, “You can say ‘yes, we did well after,’ but then we also made mistakes there, because yes we were safe in a sense, but we went into Iraq, which was a disastrous decision, just a disastrous decision. Not Afghanistan, because that’s probably where we should have gone in the first place. But Iraq was a disastrous decision.”

Trump claimed that while he wasn’t saying he could have prevented the terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, he does think that he would have had a chance because he is “pretty good at this stuff.”

“I would have had a much tougher visa program, the visas are too easy,” said Trump, who also claimed that while the CIA warned of a possible attack, the main U.S. intelligence agencies weren’t working together.

“Then we went out and we attacked the wrong country,” Trump said. “We went out and attacked Iraq, they had no weapons of mass destruction, as you know and as we found out.”

Trump’s most recent comments contradict an earlier interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Oct. 6 when Trump was asked whether he thought keeping boots on the ground in Afghanistan was a good idea.

“I wouldn’t totally disagree with it, except, you know, at some point, are they going to be there for the next 200 years?” Trump replied.

“We made a terrible mistake getting involved there in the first place,” Trump continued. “We had real brilliant thinkers that didn’t know what the hell they were doing. And it’s a mess. It’s a mess. And at this point, you probably have to [stay] because that thing will collapse about two seconds after they leave. Just as I said that Iraq was going to collapse after we leave.”

When Camerota questioned Trump about his previous comments during Tuesday’s interview, he insisted that he “never said” that the U.S. made a mistake by invading Afghanistan.

“We made a mistake going into Iraq,” Trump said. “I’ve never said we made a mistake going into Afghanistan.” Trump denied making the October 6 comments about Afghanistan despite Camerota reading his comments on air back to him, as shown in the above-embedded video.

For more election coverage, click here.

Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton Support Keeping U.S. Troops in Afghanistan

Democratic Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have both indicated support for President Obama’s decision to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan through 2016.

During Obama’s re-election campaign, he promised that he would end the war that was started by former President George W. Bush in 2001.

Obama announced his plan to leave the current 9,800 troops in Afghanistan on Thursday.

“While America’s combat mission in Afghanistan may be over, our commitment to Afghanistan and its people endures,” Obama said. “I will not allow Afghanistan to be used as safe haven for terrorists to attack our nation again.”

[RELATED: President Obama Cancels Plan to Withdraw from Afghanistan]

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lent support for Obama’s decision during an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Friday.

[pull_quote_center]I think what you’re seeing with President Obama is a perfect example of a leader who has strong convictions about what he would like to see happen, but also pays attention to what’s going on in the real world. And his decision is one that I agree with.[/pull_quote_center]

Clinton said she wouldn’t specify what she would do if she were President, but that she believes the U.S. should “continue to work with the government of Afghanistan to try to help strengthen security for them.

“I will not sit here today and say what I would do upon taking office because, again, we want to bring our troops home,” Clinton said. “We certainly don’t want them engaged in on the ground combat. We want them to help support and train the Afghan army.”

Clinton concluded, “So, I can’t predict where things will be in January of 2017. But I support the president’s decision.”

[RELATED: U.S. Turns Blind Eye To Afghan Allies Abusing Children]

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also showed support for Obama’s decision on ABC’s “This Week” when he was asked by host George Stephanopoulos if he would keep troops in Afghanistan.

Stephanopoulos said that Obama is “keeping 10,000 troops in Afghanistan through next year. More than five thousand after that. You just heard Ben Carson saying he supports that decision. So does Hillary Clinton. Do you?”

“Well, yeah- I won’t give you the exact number,” Sanders replied. “Clearly, what the president has been trying to do and I say this as somebody who voted against the war in Iraq, a war which destabilized the entire region.”

“Clearly, we do not want to see the Taliban gain more power, and I think we need a certain nucleus of American troops present in Afghanistan to try to provide the training and support the Afghan army needs.”

Sanders said he would not “get into hypotheticals” when pressed by Stephanopoulos to explain which circumstances might push Sanders to authorize unilateral action to use force.



For more election coverage, click here.

Leaked Documents Reveal Details about Obama’s Drone Program, U.S. ‘Assassination Complex’

While President Obama has made bold claims about using restraint in terms of declaring war on countries in the Middle East, his use of drone strikes on Middle East targets has abounded.

A new series of documents obtained by The Intercept “offer an unprecedented glimpse into Obama’s drone war” by revealing the inner workings of the United States military’s assassination program in Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia.

During a September meeting with a small group of veterans and Gold Star mothers of slain U.S. military personnel, Obama boasted about being different from Republicans in Congress regarding foreign policy.

“Right now, if I was taking the advice of some of the members of Congress who holler all the time, we’d be in, like, seven wars right now,” Obama said.

“I’m not exaggerating. I’ve been counting. We’d be in military actions in seven places around the world,” Obama continued, referencing the countries of Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Libya, Afghanistan and Yemen, which have all been targets of U.S. drone strikes.

[RELATED: Game of Drones: Majority of Americans Support Strikes, While Uninformed]

The Intercept noted that when the Obama administration “has discussed drone strikes publicly, it has offered assurances that such operations are a more precise alternative to boots on the ground and are authorized only when an ‘imminent’ threat is present and there is ‘near certainty’ that the intended target will be eliminated.”

However, according to documents leaked by an anonymous whistleblower, the actual numbers paint a much different picture. The whistleblower, granted anonymity by The Intercept, said he provided the documents because of the need for people to understand the reality of individuals being placed on kill lists.

“We’re allowing this to happen. And by ‘we,’ I mean every American citizen who has access to this information now, but continues to do nothing about it,” said the source.

[RELATED: Obama Has Sentenced Whistleblowers to 10x the Jail Time of All Prior U.S. Presidents Combined]

From January 2012 to February 2013, as a part of the campaign Operation Haymaker in Afghanistan, the documents reveal that “U.S. special operations airstrikes killed more than 200 people,” but only “35 were the intended targets.”

The documents note that during a five-month period of the same operation, “nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets.”

“Anyone caught in the vicinity is guilty by association,” the source said. When “a drone strike kills more than one person, there is no guarantee that those persons deserved their fate.”

The source also claimed that the program for targeting and locating suspected terrorists, which uses a phone number or email address to locate the target, is very unreliable, and he has come across countless instances where the intelligence was faulty.

“It’s stunning the number of instances when selectors are misattributed to certain people,” the source said. “And it isn’t until several months or years later that you all of a sudden realize that the entire time you thought you were going after this really hot target, you wind up realizing it was his mother’s phone the whole time.”

The source also noted that the military has a practice of “dehumanizing the people before you’ve even encountered the moral question of ‘is this a legitimate kill or not?’”

[pull_quote_center]They have no rights. They have no dignity. They have no humanity to themselves. They’re just a ‘selector’ to an analyst. You eventually get to a point in the target’s life cycle that you are following them, you don’t even refer to them by their actual name.[/pull_quote_center]

In 2012, Ben Swann asked President Obama directly about the “Presidential Kill List” that has included U.S. citizens such as Anwar al-Awlaki. Watch Obama’s response in the video below, as well as Swann pointing out that Obama’s drone strikes have occurred well outside of Afghanistan and Pakistan.



President Obama Cancels Plan to Withdraw from Afghanistan

President Barack Obama announced on Thursday that he is canceling his plan to withdraw from Afghanistan during his presidency and instead will leave the current force of 9,800 troops in place throughout 2016.

Under the new plan, troop levels are set to drop to 5,500 at an unspecified point in late 2016 or early 2017. The U.S. will continue operations out of bases in Kandahar, Bagram, and Jalalabad, a departure from Obama’s previous plan in which America’s presence in Afghanistan would have been scaled back to 1,000 troops garrisoned at the U.S. embassy in Kabul.

Afghan forces are still not as strong as they need to be. Meanwhile, the Taliban has made gains particularly in rural areas and can still launch deadly attacks in cities, including Kabul,” said President Obama in a Thursday speech from the White House, according to the Washington Post.

“I will not allow Afghanistan to be used as safe haven for terrorists to attack our nation again,” he added.

[RELATED: Doctors Without Borders Leaving Afghan City After U.S.-Led Coalition Bombs Hospital]

The New York Times notes, “The Taliban are now spread through more parts of the country than at any point since 2001, according to the United Nations, and last month they scored their biggest victory of the war, seizing the northern city of Kunduz and holding it for more than two weeks before pulling back on Tuesday.

Beltway hawks have reportedly been pressuring the president to bolster U.S. presence in Afghanistan after ISIS rose to power in a vacuum created by years of war and destabilization in Iraq.

President Obama’s new plan, which is estimated to cost $14.6 billion, leaves flexibility for U.S. military leaders or the next president to decide when troops levels will be scaled back from 9,800 to 5,500.

[RELATED: Doctors Without Borders Hospital Raided By Afghan Forces Months Before US Airstrike]

U.S. troops have been fighting in Afghanistan for 14 years. To date, 2,345 U.S. military members have been killed in the conflict and 20,071 have been wounded in action, according to NBC News.

President Obama, who had pledged while campaigning to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan during his presidency, said that he is not disappointed by the change in plans.

Doctors Without Borders Hospital Raided By Afghan Forces Months Before US Airstrike

Months before US airstrikes repeatedly attacked a Doctors Without Borders hospital located in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz, the organization stated in a July press release that its facility had been raided by Afghan special forces who assaulted the staff members and arrested patients.

According to the press release:

[pull_quote_center]On Wednesday 1 July at 14:07, heavily armed men from Afghan Special Forces entered the MSF hospital compound, cordoned off the facility and began shooting in the air. The armed men physically assaulted three MSF staff members and entered the hospital with weapons. They then proceeded to arrest three patients. Hospital staff tried their best to ensure continued medical care for the three patients, and in the process, one MSF staff member was threatened at gunpoint by two armed men. After approximately one hour, the armed men released the three patients and left the hospital compound.[/pull_quote_center]

Doctors Without Borders, also known as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), condemned the “violent intrusion.” Three months after the raid, US airstrikes attacked the hospital for between 30 and 45 minutes according to hospital officials, killing 22 people including 12 members of staff and 10 civilian patients including 3 children.

[RELATED: Doctors Without Borders Leaving Afghan City After U.S.-Led Coalition Bombs Hospital]

U.S. forces have displayed difficulty in explaining what led to the deadly attack last Saturday. Initial reports from the Pentagon claimed that the strikes were ordered to protect U.S. forces under threat; later, a U.S. general in Afghanistan said the airstrike “was requested by Afghan troops who had come under fire.”

MSF said that “it had repeatedly informed the U.S.-led coalition of the facility’s precise GPS coordinates over the past few months. The location of the hospital was last conveyed to the international coalition three days before the airstrike,” according to the Washington Post.

[RELATED: War Crimes Probe Urged After US Airstrikes Kill 22 Civilians in Kunduz Hospital]

“A hospital was mistakenly struck,” General John Campbell, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. “We would never intentionally target a protected medical facility.”

Doctors Without Borders/MSF have strongly maintained that the airstrikes in its hospital amount to a war crime, and have demanded an investigation into the incident.

War Crimes Probe Urged After US Airstrikes Kill 22 Civilians in Kunduz Hospital

by Jason Ditz

Doctors Without Borders are demanding a full, independent inquiry into Saturday’s incident on the outskirts of the northern Afghan city of Kunduz, in which a US warplane repeatedly attacked a Doctors Without Borders hospital, killing 22 people within, including 12 members of staff and 10 civilian patients.

Though Doctors Without Borders informed the US and Afghan governments immediately upon the first strike near the hospital, they reported being repeatedly and precisely targeted by the warplane for over 30 minutes after that, and are saying that the presumption of any investigation should be that a war crime was committed.

The Pentagon insists they are conducting a full investigation themselves. Defense Secretary Ash Carter says the situation is “confused,” but that they would hold anyone responsible if the bombing is “something they shouldn’t have done.” He refused to rule out further strikes, saying it was up to Gen. Campbell to do whatever he thinks is appropriate. The hospital has been closed and the workers evacuated.

The Afghan government is claiming attacks on the hospital were “retaliation” and that the site was actually a “Taliban base.” Doctors Without Borders has rejected this claim as absurd, noting they’ve been at that site for some time, and it was well known it was a hospital.

The UN Human Rights Chief also declared the attack “inexcusable,” saying that if it is confirmed that the attack was deliberate it would amount to a war crime. The US has ruled out ever allowing any of their soldiers to be charged with war crimes under any circumstances, and has a law on the books dating back to 2002 allowing a military invasion of the Netherlands to stop the International Criminal Court from carrying out such charges.

Pentagon investigations are rarely particularly credible, and usually end with some sort of blanket excuse and statement of “regret,” and any punitive action tends to be taken against only the lowest ranked personnel possible.

Report: U.S. Military Ordered Troops to Overlook Afghan Allies’ Sexual Abuse

The U.S. military has reportedly been engaging in a policy of ordering its troops not to intervene when U.S.-allied and trained Afghan security forces sexually abuse children. Soldiers who have attempted to intervene in the abuses, some of which have taken place on U.S. bases, have been punished by superiors for disobeying orders.

The New York Times’ Joseph Goldstein wrote, “Rampant sexual abuse of children has long been a problem in Afghanistan, particularly among armed commanders who dominate much of the rural landscape and can bully the population. The practice is called bacha bazi, literally ‘boy play,’ and American soldiers and Marines have been instructed not to intervene — in some cases, not even when their Afghan allies have abused boys on military bases, according to interviews and court records.

The Army stripped Special Forces Captain Dan Quinn, who has since quit the military, of his command after a 2011 incident in which he allegedly assaulted an Afghan police commander who had admitted to keeping a local boy chained to his bed as a sex slave.

I picked him up and threw him onto the ground. I did this to make sure the message was understood that if he went back to the boy, that it was not going to be tolerated,” said Quinn. He added, “The reason we were here is because we heard the terrible things the Taliban were doing to people, how they were taking away human rights, but we were putting people into power who would do things that were worse than the Taliban did — that was something village elders voiced to me.

[RELATED: Inspector General Calls US Effort to Rebuild Afghanistan an “Abysmal Failure”]

Army Special Forces Sgt. First Class Charles Martland is also reportedly facing disciplinary action for assisting Quinn in the alleged beating.

The Army contends that Martland and others should have looked the other way (a contention that I believe is nonsense),” said U.S. Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA).

Col. Brian Tribus, spokesman for the U.S. command in Afghanistan, told The New York Times, “Generally, allegations of child sexual abuse by Afghan military or police personnel would be a matter of domestic Afghan criminal law. There would be no express requirement that U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan report it.

Gregory Buckley Sr., whose son Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr. was killed by a 17-year-old boy staying on base with an Afghan police commander, believes his son’s death was a consequence of the U.S. military’s policy of ignoring sexual abuses by allies. He said that, during his last phone call home before he was killed, his son told him, “At night we can hear [the boys] screaming, but we’re not allowed to do anything about it.

My son said that his officers told him to look the other way because it’s their culture,” said Gregory Buckley Sr.

An ex-marine speaking under conditions of anonymity explained the military’s view on the policy to The New York Times. “The bigger picture was fighting the Taliban. It wasn’t to stop molestation,” he said.

US Kills Afghan Refugee Program Funding, Citing ‘Corruption’

By Kathryn Watson – U.S. State Department officials stopped funding training of Afghanistan’s Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation due to chronic corruption and lack of capabilities, according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction in a report made public Thursday.

The U.S. has spent nearly $1 billion on Afghan refugee aid since 2002, largely through organizations like the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Committee on the Red Cross.

The department’s International Organization for Migration funded a two-year program in 2012 to train the Afghan government in helping refugees and returning Afghans, but gave up in 2014 after the Afghan government’s corruption and inability to provide needed services made working together “extremely challenging,” the report said.

The 2014 decision to terminate U.S. funding for the MORR program is only now being made public. The U.S. will still fund aid for millions of Afghans fleeing to, and returning from, Iran and Pakistan through outside organizations.

“Because the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation (MORR), under the previous Afghan administration, faced problems with corruption and a lack of capacity, State currently has no plans to provide monetary assistance to the ministry,” Special Inspector General John Sopko recently told Secretary of State John Kerry and other top department officials. “The new Afghan administration has indicated its commitment to addressing these issues within the ministry and assisting Afghan refugees and returnees.”

Refugees “do not get much attention because they are not a priority issue and ministries do not think refugees are directly related to their work,” an unnamed department official said, according to the report. The U.S. official was quoting an unnamed Afghan official.

This isn’t the first time U.S. and Afghan officials have called MORR corrupt or incompetent.

A 2013 Afghan Independent Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee assessment of MORR found the ministry’s process for distributing land to refugees “afflicted by institutional corruption,” SIGAR noted.

A U.N. Office of Inspector General investigation that same year found MORR spent about $117,000 in UNHCR funds for staff bonuses, reimbursements to officials supported by forged documents, and an office rental that violated both UNHCR rules and Afghan laws.

The Afghan government is particularly falling behind on placing returning families on land plots. Only 14 percent of the 266,000 returning families that applied for it received land, a 2011 State Department Office of Inspector General report found.

The State Department and UNHCR don’t have reliable refugee figures, since they largely rely on numbers from the Pakistani and Irani governments. The UNHCR, for example, estimates 23,000 Afghan refugees die in Pakistan each year, but the Pakistani government only reported six deaths from January 2008 through June 2014.

UNHCR estimates about 2.5 million Afghans are living in Pakistan, and at least 950,000 are living in Iran, as of December 2014.

Follow Kathryn on Twitter, or email her at katie@dailycallernewsfoundation.org. 




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Taliban Members ‘Pledge Allegiance’ Amid Leadership Rift

Video Aims to Quiet Reports of Faction Split

by Jason Ditz, August 03, 2015

Faced with growing reports of a split among key commanders on who should lead them, the Afghan Taliban today released a video showing members of the group, including commanders, pledging loyalty to Mullah Mansour, who was elected to replace former leader Mullah Omar.

Omar was the founder of the Taliban and ruled it for decades. His death has created a major leadership question, and his eldest son is said to be leading a faction which opposes Mansour, and wanted him to replace his father. Several other commanders are said to be undecided on leadership, but unhappy on how the Quetta Shura went about choosing.

Those supportive of the Shura decision claimed Mansour was “unanimously” elected, though there was only unanimity among those still present at the time the vote was held, several commanders had walked out, and the Taliban admitted today that many weren’t even consulted on the matter.

Mansour gave a speech over the weekend calling for unity among the group, saying it would benefit their enemies to splinter now. Peace talks that were ongoing with the Afghan government have been suspended, and it is believed Mansour can’t bring the matter back up right now, because it is unclear he can deliver on promises to end fighting among commanders whose loyalty he may not command.